Calling out the outies
When I think of the postseason in any sport, I immediately have images of the best athletes playing harder and with more passion than they ever have before. It's why we love to watch, whether as fans or as fellow athletes: to see the very best players do all they are physically capable of to prevent their season from ending and to ultimately win a championship.
So this is why, as a fellow outfielder, I'm calling out the best athletes (naturally I'm biased) on the field: the outies. Some of them didn't have that passion when their teams needed it.
Let's start with the Boston Red Sox, one of the most talented teams in the game. We all know how the story ended: a history-making downfall in September that devastated Red Sox Nation, as the team didn't even make it to the playoffs. But all I can remember is Red Sox left fielder Carl Crawford making a weak slide attempt while failing to make a game-saving catch in the season finale. Not even a dive? To get your team to the playoffs? Really?
Now fast-forward to the historic Game 6 of the World Series last week. It's the bottom of the ninth inning. The Rangers are one strike away from winning their first World Series championship. David Freese hits a deep fly ball to right field. Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz goes back … and … slows up for the approaching wall? The ball drops in for a two-run, game-tying triple.
I am an outfielder. I have dropped plenty of balls and made numerous mistakes. But there is one thing you could never accuse me of: letting up. When the game is on the line, you dive. You run into walls, or for a World Series title, heck, run through the wall. That is what makes outfielders so fun to watch. They make game-saving diving catches. They are the highlight on "SportsCenter."
Crawford, Cruz and many others are ridiculously talented athletes. But the difference between a player and a champion is the split-second moment when the talent takes a back seat to an all-in fortitude regarding your sport, and your team. This baseball season proved it, and neither the Rangers nor the Red Sox ended up as world champs.